Rental Survey Closes Soon!

Survey on Rental in “Transition Areas” and Some Commercial Zones Closes Soon; Fill it out Today!

Apartments on a quiet streetThe City of Vancouver wants to hear from you about their revised policy allowing apartments near arterial roads. The policy will allow single-family (RS) and duplex (RT) lots to be rezoned for small rental buildings, generally up to 6-storeys on arterial roads and 4-storeys up to one block away. Kitsilano NIMBYs are fighting this hard, the policy is at risk of being watered-down even more. Your voice can make a difference!

TL;DR: Here are a few important points to consider before answering the survey (direct link here - ends July 27th):

Question 1: The City should encourage the construction of secure market rental housing/below market rental housing/social housing in more neighbourhoods?

  • We strongly agree with all three of these points.

Question 2: Would the proposed changes make it faster and easier to build new secure rental housing / complete neighbourhoods / to address climate emergency?

  • We agree with all three of these points, with some reservations.

Question 3: Do you have any comments specific to the zoning changes for rental housing in C-2 areas [busy commercial streets]?

  • This change will allow rental housing at 6-storeys to compete with condos/strata on a more level playing field. This is overdue.
  • More options, such as 12-storey mass timber buildings, should be considered, especially on larger sites or near rapid transit.

Question 4: Do you have any comments specific to the rezoning policy changes for rental housing in low density areas, or the new standard rental zones?

  • Still Breathing Diesel Fumes: This policy still only allows apartments within 1 block of arterial streets. Renters deserve to be allowed to live on quiet, clean side streets too. The 1 block limit should be removed entirely: apartments should be allowed anywhere near schools, parks, or shopping nodes (or just anywhere!).
  • More Options for Moderate Income Rental: There are not enough incentives for moderate income rental apartments and the incentives described do not appear very financially attractive. Only a 9% increase in floor space is offered for reserving 20% of an apartment building for below market apartments, and this small bonus is only allowed directly on arterial streets. The City is running way behind the rental targets in the Vancouver Housing Strategy, there should be more and better incentives, such as allowing 6-storey buildings with moderate income homes off-arterial and providing options for 12-storey mass timber construction in at least some locations.
  • This is an important policy for creating much-needed rental housing. The scale of this policy has not changed much from what has been allowed for years; which ignores the worsening crisis, a critical shortage of rental housing and the rapidly rising rents over the past several years. More ambitious policies are needed now.

 You can answer the survey and read more about the policy at the City’s consultation page, but be sure to submit your thoughts as the survey closes soon!

 Want to know more? More analysis after the flip…

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Broadway Plan Survey Key Points & Walk-Through

Survey Closes March 31st

The "Phase 2" consultation for the Broadway Plan has been posted with a detailed survey that is open until the end of March. The Emerging Directions give a general, if vague, idea of the kinds of land use changes currently expected for the many sub-areas in the Broadway Plan. The Broadway Plan area stretches from Clark in the East to Vine in the West, with sub-areas for Mt. Pleasant, Fairview, and Kitsilano.

Broadway Plan Simple Map of "Character Areas"

The Broad Strokes of the Broadway Plan

The Good

The Emerging Directions have a strong focus on protecting tenants and maintaining affordability. The Plan will consider detached and duplex (RS/RT) zones that were previously off-limits, to help create new apartments where the risk of displacement of renters is the lowest. The large Queen Elizabeth Park view cone that greatly restricts development in the area will be reviewed to ensure that Broadway can add enough height to function as Vancouver's 'second downtown' while maintaining affordability. In Commercial "villages", including busy arterial Main Street, an approach similar to the West End will be pursued, where the lower scale of the commercial high street is maintained in favour of adding housing off-arterial (in the residential areas, because housing is residential!).

The Not as Good

The plan alludes to a highly incremental approach that may not work in practice. Making big promises about affordability and public realm improvements requires much bigger change in what types of housing are allowed, for two reasons. First, maintaining market affordability (the vast majority of existing housing is market-rate) requires building enough to satiate the strong demand to live in a vibrant, central and growing area like this. Secondly, increases in allowed floor-space and height are what create the "land-lift" that allows the City to raise money for improvements, social housing, and below-market rental. An incremental approach intended to reduce speculation will more likely result in too little housing, too late, and thus continued spiraling rents combined with only modest increases in the number of below-market homes. The 2016 Grandview-Woodland Plan also pursued a policy of incremental increases in height in many areas, and has so far achieved 0% of its population growth target!

Survey Walk-through / Cheat Sheet

The survey is rather long, but you can choose how much of it you want to do. To make sure you can finish, you may want to skip one or two neighbourhoods so that you can focus on the ones you are interested in. With that, it's time to open the survey in a new tab and click "Read More" below to get started!

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Vancouver Plan Displacement Survey

Important Survey Closes this Weekend (March 22nd)

Planners are asking residents for their thoughts on housing, displacement and exclusion in the City's neighbourhoods. You can take the survey at this link, or read more on the ShapeYourCity page for Vancouver Plan - Housing.

Some thoughts on key questions:

Question 2 is about the definition of residential displacement, the types of which are defined as:

  • Physical (direct) displacement - i.e. having to leave your home because it is being renovated or redeveloped, is in an unlivable condition, or you have been evicted;
  • Economic (indirect) displacement - i.e. having to leave your home because you can no longer afford rent or you can no longer afford or access your daily needs such as a grocery store; and
  • Cultural displacement - i.e. leaving your neighbourhood because you can no longer afford or access your cultural needs such as culturally appropriate stores, spaces or services.

I partly disagree: The working definition basically assumes that people will live their entire lives in the exact same home. If someone has to leave their preferred neighbourhood because their housing needs change and no suitable housing is available that is affordable to them, that is still displacement. The definition could be extended to people who would prefer to live in a given area, say near their work, but cannot afford to move there in the first place, as the only difference between this and the proposed definition is incumbency. Additionally, if someone can afford to move into a suitable nearby home when they are "physically" displaced from their current home, then they are not really being displaced.

Question 6 covers multiple topics. The first two, "Allow more height and density (units) for new social and rental housing buildings to make them financially viable" and Adding housing diversity (i.e. rental apartment buildings) in areas with low housing choice (i.e. single family neighbourhoods) are, in my opinion, Very Important.
Question 8 is should it be a priority as part of Vancouver Plan to make neighbourhoods with housing too expensive for most Vancouver residents more inclusive to low to moderate income households (with annual incomes under $80,000)?
My thoughts: Strongly Agree. It does not make any sense for the City to prevent people from living in apartments in any residential area. Single-family detached and duplex zoning is socialism for the rich and is economically and socially damaging for the city at large. Even if the City cannot immediately make every area generally affordable to those making under $80k, making the most exclusive areas affordable to people more people would still be a big improvement, very easy, and would have knock-on affordability and anti-displacement benefits throughout the city.
 
Question 9 is Vancouver is a growing city that is expected to continue to experience population growth over the long-term. What approaches to this growth should we take to make the City more inclusive (e.g. more social housing, more secure options for renters)? 
My thoughts: Social housing and secure rental are both important and should be prioritized and fast-tracked. The City should also remember that the market is made up of the wants and needs of real people, and mostly try to accommodate market demands and not get in the way with restrictive zoning or long/expensive/complex permitting processes.
The City should also eliminate DCLs and other permitting fees, and 'pay for growth' out of general revenue instead; it is not fair to charge newcomers an ever-escalating entry fee to live here, especially when newcomers provide so many important services that we all need and the assumed costs bear little resemblance to any actual cost imposed on the City.
Question 12 is Given increasing homelessness and the need for a variety of housing types and affordability levels to meet the needs of our diverse City, do you agree or disagree that all neighbourhoods should have...
Social services (e.g. temporary shelters, warming centres, meal services, mental health and addiction services) available
All types of housing (e.g. supportive, social, purpose-built rental housing apartments, condos, houses
My thoughts: Strongly agree to both. First, it is generally better to let everyone from condo owners to rental operators to social services providers go wherever in the City they themselves determine best meets their goals & needs; zoning does not need to impede this. Second, I believe mixed income neighbourhoods will help create more resilient communities and foster understanding and community between diverse groups. Furthermore, having services available in all neighbourhoods will help residents to access supports when they first need them instead of once they have already 'fallen through the cracks' in these services.
Question 13 is Do you have any other comments about housing, displacement and exclusion in Vancouver?
I could say a lot here! Some thoughts:
- In general, permitting a lot more apartments (below market and market-rate) in Vancouver will improve affordability and housing options for residents, and prevent displacement by taking demand away from existing apartments.
- Building lots of apartments will also support our climate action targets by providing more customers for local shopping in walk-able/roll-able neighbourhoods, and more customers for public transit. Right now, most houses in Vancouver get replaced with new bigger houses, and most of the metro's population growth is in car-oriented suburbs rather than in transit-friendly Vancouver.
- New housing should be focused in the least dense areas with the lowest concentration of renters, to prevent displacement. This will also make better renter protections and compensation viable.
- "Neighbourhood character" is an aesthetic fetish invented for exclusion and should not be a serious consideration for the city government.
Other questions are of course important too, but require less commentary. We 'Strongly Agree' with more homes for everybody, everywhere! Good luck on the survey (link).
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Last Chance to Improve False Creek South!

The False Creek South (FCS) co-ops were intended to be a master-planned, utopian dream of socially mixed co-ops on beautiful waterfront city land. 

According to the city’s FCS community profile document, “False Creek South was designed to be a compact, self-sufficient and socially mixed community that would accommodate all household types, age levels and income groups.” It sounds quite lovely, doesn’t it?

It may surprise you to hear that in reality, it’s a progressive’s nightmare and a serious failing of city planning. What has resulted is the exact opposite of the stated goals - a whiter, richer neighbourhood that houses few families. 

The facts are thus:

  • False Creek South has a 20% higher median household income than the city overall, despite 80% of the land being publicly owned. The city median income is $65,000, compared to the FCS median income of $78,000. The city land, worth no less than approximately $700 million, is being used to house relatively well-off people, not poorer people that you’d expect from a public subsidy. The intent was to do the latter, but the outcome was the former.
  • False Creek South also doesn’t house many families. Only 23% of households are families with children, compared to 33% for Vancouver as a whole. Households are smaller, yet have higher incomes, so per capita income is even higher.
  • False Creek South has a disproportionately low proportion of low-income households compared to the rest of the city. FCS houses 32% fewer low-income households compared to the city as a whole. Again, there is a serious mismatch of intent vs. outcome.
  • False Creek South also egregiously lacks diversity. Only 17% of the residents during the 2016 census were visible minorities compared to 51% for Vancouver as a whole. Residents whose mother tongue is English is more dominant in False Creek South (76%) compared to the city overall (53%). FCS is largely white and English-speaking, another major failing. 

So what on earth happened? Why did FCS end up being a wealthy, white enclave, the exact opposite of its stated goals?

Photo of False Creek South, looking out to Broadway/Fairview

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Moderate Income Rental at 4th & Balaclava

Support Moderate Income Apartments in Kitsilano!

What, Where, When:

Building Rendering

A proposal for a 6-storey, Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP) apartment building at 3084 W 4th Avenue and 2010 Balaclava Street is going to public hearing at Vancouver City Council on Thursday, Feb. 11th at 6:00 p.m.

Why this Project Needs Your Support:

  • 20% of the building will be permanently affordable to moderate incomes (starting average $30k income for studios up to $64k for 2 bedrooms). Moderate incomes are under-represented in Kits compared to the rest of Vancouver.
  • This is a small apartment building on a street with many other apartment buildings, but is “controversial” because it is in Kitsilano, and unfortunately, Kitsilano has an organized opposition to new housing, which is typical of wealthier, whiter areas of Vancouver. An opponent of a previous MIRHPP project openly said it would be “dropping the ghetto in Kitsilano.” And ultimately, pushing new apartments out of Kits puts more pressure on other areas of Vancouver and our region - not to mention existing rental housing stock.
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Climate Emergency Action Plan

A staff report laying out the City of Vancouver's proposed Climate Emergency Action Plan will be debated at Council this week, starting Tuesday, November 3rd. It is a comprehensive plan that addresses emissions from buildings, transportation, and "embodied emissions" (what Vancouver essentially 'imports' from elsewhere in buildings and other consumption). While we are generally supportive of climate action and the measures in this report, we see two major areas that need improvement.

1. The Emissions Reduction Targets Should Be Scaled (Inversely) with Population Growth

Vancouver is a growing city and needs to reduce emissions regardless of population growth. However, the effectiveness of the proposed policies need to be assessed in a way that ensures we are not just pushing even more people and families into car-oriented suburbs and other, more car-oriented, cities. A family that is using public and active transit in Vancouver is one that is not driving in from Langley. We are calling on Council to require household/population growth targets to be appropriately integrated into the assessment of our 2030 emissions reduction target.

Metro Vancouver's recent population growth has been focused in auto-oriented suburbs.

2. Planning for Housing and Complete Communities Needs to Happen Sooner than 2024

The Action Plan says very little about Big Move 1, targeting 90% complete communities where people can meet their daily needs within an easy/walk roll by 2030. This is because it is being addressed as part of the on-going Vancouver Plan process. But it does state clearly that complete communities with more housing options are essential to the success of the overall plan, including improving the feasibility of several of the other Big Moves. For this reason, the current timeline of merely having recommendations to Council by 2024 is setting up the entire Action Plan for failure. The development process in Vancouver is inevitably a multi-year affair, and multistorey buildings can take years to complete. We are calling on Council to amend the timeline by requiring actionable recommendations for referral to public hearing by 2022 at the latest.

Read our letter to Council Here

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Help Get Moderate Income Rental Homes Approved at Broadway & Alma!

Are you or your children renters, or will they be soon? Are other loved ones or friends struggling to stay in Vancouver? This apartment building is for you! It will have 161 secured rental homes, including 20% (by floor area) reserved permanently for moderate incomes earning between $30,000 and $80,000.

TL;DR: This building will improve affordability in Vancouver, as well as access to jobs and public transit. It is at risk because people in wealthy neighbourhoods are very organized in their opposition to new buildings, especially buildings that are larger (i.e. include more homes), and several city councillors have recently started trying to delay most housing initiatives. To support, speak at the public hearing this Tuesday, October 27th, and/or write in via the City's online comment form. Don’t know what to say? Here's the basics, read on for more:

Subject: 3701-3743 West Broadway

Position: Support

Comments: Whatever you like, the more specific & personal the better! It can be as simple as "We need much more rental in West Point Grey / near UBC / in this City. The housing crisis is now; this project must be approved and not delayed" Read below to find out some of the reasons this is a great proposal that should be replicated many times over.

Why Vancouver needs these apartments and many more like it:

1. Centrally Located - By public transit, these homes will be 30 minutes to UBC and 30 minutes right to Waterfront Station. By bike, they are 15 minutes to UBC, 30 minutes to Waterfront Station downtown.

2. Zero Displacement - Wealthy, low-density neighbourhoods need to stop pushing people out through no growth or slow growth planning policies. It's socially bad, forces people in less affluent neighbourhoods to compete with West Point Grey's wealthy children for housing, and makes thousands of people have longer commutes. This proposal is exactly where we should be building much more housing, and this building will not displace any current tenants!

WPG is 4% of Vancouver's land in a central, amenity-rich location, but has only 2% of people.

WPG has half the population density of the rest of Vancouver.

WPG has the 3rd highest incomes in Vancouver but too many people are still paying too much for housing.

WPG is one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the city, but far too many people can't afford the rent.

3. Moderate Income Homes - While building more market rental homes helps to increase affordability through increased supply, these moderate income homes will help keep people in their neighbourhood who can't afford market rents today (and long into the future). To meet the targets set out in the Housing Vancouver Strategy, the City needs to approve about 573 moderate income homes per year over the next 8 years, roughly 19 buildings like this per year. The need for "missing middle" housing is great, and City Council needs to be pushed to do much more much faster. This project is a step in the right direction.

The City is behind on rental targets and way behind on moderate income rental

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2020 Provincial Election Questionnaire

Vancouver candidates from all three of the big BC parties answered our first ever provincial housing questionnaire! Devyani Singh, Kelly Tatham, and Stephanie Hendy of the Green Party answered questions individually, while the NDP and Liberal candidates in Vancouver responded collectively with their colleagues in detailed letters (included in full at the end of this post). A big thank you to all of the candidates who took the time to put together these thoughtful responses on an issue that is still top-of-mind for Vancouverites! Read all four questions and all responses below:

Question 1 - UEL:

Residential areas of the University Endowment Lands are mostly zoned for mansions that are unaffordable to the vast majority of Vancouverites, including the students and staff for whom living in the area would be very convenient. Unlike most residential land, the Province has not delegated land use decisions in the UEL to a municipal council. Within lands under provincial jurisdiction, would you support allowing apartments in amenity-rich areas, e.g. near a major university and large parks, to help address the lack of student and workforce housing? Are there other ways in which you think this land could be better used?

- Devyani Singh (Green, Vancouver-Point Grey): The BC Green Party supports allowing multi-family homes in amenity-rich areas as a broad and basic principle of housing equity. In 2017, the BC Housing 2017/18 - 2019/20 Service Plan committed to developing student housing at universities and colleges. While a step in the right direction, the $450 million allocated to a provincial loan fund for universities and colleges is a short-term measure and does not provide a long-term path forward for responsible densification of the University Endowment Lands. The B.C. Greens are committed to approaching public policy in a more comprehensive, bold, and lasting way. The B.C. Greens support the provincial government reviewing the University Endowment Lands Act through meaningful engagement with post-secondary leaders, students, faculty and staff and other key stakeholders to develop long-term solutions to housing needs. This should include protection for renters living on the UEL who are currently not included in the Residential Tenancy Act, and comprehensive improvements to land use and planning directions on UELs in accordance with regional efforts to support housing affordability and equity emerging through the Metro 2050 and Transport 2050 updates and other work in progress. 

-Kelly Tatham (Green, Vancouver-Mount Pleasant): I would certainly support more affordable options on the campus, however, as this land is in the core territory of the Musqueam Indian Band, any decisions about the land's use should ultimately be made by them if they so choose. Indigenous sovereignty is a huge part of land use that is too often left out, and I would look to their guidance when it comes to the UEL usage.

- Stephanie Hendy(Green, Vancouver-Langara): Yes I would support allowing apartments in amenity-rich areas on UEL. These would have to be rentals.
Is there any research into whether there could be funding available through the Community Land Trust to build co-operative housing?

... 3 more questions on schools, rental housing, and provincial land use interventions, after the jump. Plus, overall responses from the NDP and Liberals! ...

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Tell the City We Need Apartments on Quiet Streets

Survey on Rental in “Transition Areas” Closes Soon; Fill it out Today!

Apartments on a quiet streetThe City of Vancouver wants to hear from you about their revised policy allowing apartments near arterial roads. The policy will allow single-family (RS) and duplex (RT) lots to be rezoned for small rental buildings, generally up to 6-storeys on arterial roads and 4-storeys up to one block away. Kitsilano NIMBYs are fighting this hard, the policy is at risk of being watered-down even more. Your voice can make a difference!

TL;DR: Here are a few important points to consider before answering the survey:

Question 1: Do you have comments on any of the proposed policy changes?

  • Still Breathing Diesel Fumes: This policy still only allows apartments within 1 block of arterial streets. Renters deserve to be allowed to live on quiet, clean side streets too. The 1 block limit should be removed entirely: apartments should be allowed anywhere near schools, parks, or shopping nodes (or just anywhere!).

Question 2: Do you have any comments on the new rental zones?

  • More Options for Moderate Income Rental: There are not enough incentives for moderate income rental apartments and the incentives described do not appear very financially attractive. Only a 9% increase in floor space is offered for reserving 20% of an apartment building for below market apartments, and this small bonus is only allowed directly on arterial streets. The City is running way behind the rental targets in the Vancouver Housing Strategy, there should be more and better incentives, such as allowing 6-storey buildings with moderate income homes off-arterial and providing options for 12-storey mass timber construction in at least some locations.

 Question 3: Do you have any other comments on the Secured Rental Policy for Low-Density Transition Areas?

  • This is an important policy for creating much-needed rental housing. The scale of this policy has not changed much from the original 2012 policy; which ignores the worsening crisis, a critical shortage of rental housing and the rapidly rising rents over the past several years. More ambitious policies are needed now.

 You can answer the survey and read more about the policy at the City’s consultation page, but be sure to submit your thoughts as the survey closes soon!

 Want to know more? More analysis after the flip…

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Degentrify Shaughnessy

Tomorrow, council will decide whether to allow 81 rental apartments at 4750 Granville in Shaughnessy.  Can you let council know it’s time for Shaughnessy to start letting people in, instead of pushing people out?

 

What you can do:

  1. Speak Sign up (item 3 - 4750 Granville), and let council know that it’s time to let the rest of us live in Shaughnessy.  
  2. Write - tell council about your perspective on housing in our region why it’s important that all areas of Vancouver contribute - use the city’s online form or our handy letter generator
  3. Share this message
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